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Chase Park Friends Win Lottery Grant
Cllr Peter Craig at a recent Planting Up Whickham event in Chase Park.
Another step towards big improvements to historic Chase Park has been taken. The Friends of Chase Park (FoCP), in partnership with Gateshead Council, have led a successful bid for an award of £66,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and the Big Lottery Fund (BIG) - to develop the park for the whole of the community. 

This initial grant will be used to prepare an overall plan for improving the park and to help put together a second bid for £921,800 to put the plan into action. Plans include restoring the park’s historic features and original design, improving public access throughout, increasing the number of activities and events and improving community facilities.  

Cllr. Peter Craig, who founded the group in July 2009, said, “Since the group was formed, a small but dedicated team have steadily made progress towards winning this bid, completing a Spaceshaper exercise and Feasibility Study on the way. I’d like to thank everyone who’s been involved with getting us this far.” 

This is fantastic news for the community but the full grant is not in the bag yet. There’s still a long way to go, with the second round application due to be submitted next year. 

As part of this bid, FoCP will need to match 5% of the overall amount asked for with volunteers’ time and fundraising. Please get in touch with the group if you can help in any way. The Friends are also starting to draw up a programme of park events for this year and would love to hear from anyone that would like to help. 

If you have any good ideas or would like to get involved with the planning or running of future events, they would love to hear from you. Please contact Cllr Peter Craig on 0191 488 0787 or by email for further details. 

For updates on this story and other Chase Park news, please go to FoCP's Facebook page.

FoCP monthly meetings are at 7.30pm at Whickham Community Centre on the second Tuesday of each month. Anyone is welcome to attend. 
Plans for A1 upgrade welcomed
Kevin McClurey and Cllr Peter Maughan at a recent consultation event on Coalition plans to improve the A1.
The Coalition Government has already announced plans to upgrade the A1 between Lobley Hill and Dunston. 

There is now a possibility that the upgrade will be extended to include the building of a third lane on the south bound side of the road from the Metrocentre to Dunston. And there could also be a new lane added to each side of the road from Lobley Hill to the southern end of the Team Valley.

The aim is to address the heavy congestion on the road. A final decision will be taken in spring 2014.

“The improvements are good news for the area,” said Lib Dem campaigner Kevin McClurey. “Congestion on the A1 will be reduced as a result.”

The new lanes will be built on existing highways land so there will be no demolition of properties. Building work is expected to start in the summer.
Plenty planned for Marley Hill Community Centre
Cllr Marilynn Ord with the Mayor and Mayoress at the Marley Hill Community Centre Christmas Fair in December. Many more events are planned.
Marley Hill Community Centre are planning a series of events during 2014 for the whole community.

They are also looking for people who can contribute a couple of hours a month to help run the building.

“We need people to be on the management committee or to help run events,” said Cllr Marilynn Ord, chairman of Marley Hill Community Association. If you can help in any way, please get in touch with me.”

You can email Marilynn here.

The following is a list of the events planned so far but more will be booked shortly - we’ll keep you in touch once they are arranged.
Tuesday 4th March 5pm - 8pm Pancake Day Cafe (play equipment for the kids will be available) 
Monday 21st April 10am - 3pm Easter craft market, cafe, kids’ play equipment.
Sunday 25th May 10am - 3pm May Bank Holiday craft market, cafe, kids’ play equipment.
Sunday 24th August 10am - 3pm bank holiday fair and garden show
Sunday 26th October 10am - 3pm Halloween craft market
Wednesday 5th November 5 - 8pm bonfire night celebration
Sunday 7th December 10am - 5pm Christmas market, cafe and Christmas lights switch on.

Coming soon: 2nd hand book library, mid-week cafe.
500 sign petition against opencast mining
A petition signed by 500 people has been handed in to Gateshead Council opposing a planning application to opencast 225,000 tonnes of coal at Birklands, near the Gateshead village of Kibblesworth.
The petition was handed in by Lib Dem Councillor Jonathan Wallace who helped to collect the signatures.
“This is one of two applications for opencast mining in the area,” said Cllr Wallace, who led the successful campaign against plans to set up an opencast mine to extract half a million tonnes of coal on Fellside Road, near Whickham, in 2006.
“If given the go-ahead, residents fear that there will be a flood of applications to opencast the countryside.
“The Birklands application is too close to the hamlet of Birklands and would see heavy lorries travelling along inadequate country lanes near Kibblesworth. We are therefore calling for this application to be rejected.
Slugging it out at Sainsburys for Swalwell
Cllr Chris Ord, right, joins Swalwell residents and Santa to do bagpacking at Sainsburys and raise money for Swalwell's Christmas trees.
10 Members of Swalwell Lighting Up Group (SLUG) supported Whickham Rotary Club with bagpacking at Sainsbury's on Sunday 22nd December. Whickham Rotary Club were there with their Santa Sleigh.

SLUG. are raising money to go towards future Christmas trees in Swalwell as there is no further public funding for this. We are waiting to hear how much the group will receive from Whickham Rotary Club for their sterling efforts on the day.
Lobley Hill Oakfield Road fears
Dave Fawcett on Oakfield Road in Lobley Hill. Residents have raised concerns about the road being used as a rat run.
Residents in Oakfield Road have again raised concerns about traffic using the street as a ‘rat-run’, especially at peak times.  The problem appears to have worsened recently. Dave Fawcett commented, “I have been on Oakfield Road myself during the rush hour and have seen large numbers of cars accessing the street from Lobley Hill Road. Oakfield Road was never designed for access to the rest of the estate, or as a short cut to Whickham Highway.
“However, the problem may be about to become even worse. As you will be aware, Gateshead Council plans to build 550 new ‘executive’ homes off Whickham Highway. These new houses, if built, will only add to the volume of traffic in this area and you can imagine that more people will start to use Oakfield Road as a short cut to and from the Western Bypass, Gateshead and Newcastle”.
Last December Labour councillors voted in favour of this house-building scheme going directly against local residents and Lib Dem activists who campaigned against this scheme.
Dave along with Liberal Democrat councillors, continues to campaign against the proposed housing development on the greenbelt off Whickham Highway.
“I am looking at ways in which the Oakfield Road ‘rat-run’ could be alleviated and I would welcome any ideas or proposals that local residents may have to solve this problem,” said Dave.
If you wish to comment on this or have any ideas, please let Dave know at
Counting the birds that are counting on you
It will be all eyes to the skies on Saturday, 25 and Sunday, 26 January 2014, as the nation takes part in the RSPB’s annual Big Garden Birdwatch.

The activity is the biggest garden wildlife survey in the world and last year almost 600,000 people counted the birds in their garden.

Big Garden Birdwatch, which has been running for 35 years, provides the RSPB with masses of information about changes in numbers of garden birds in winter, and helps to alert conservationists to significant declines in UK garden species such as house sparrows and starlings.

And this year, for the first time, RSPB need you to log some of the other wildlife you see in your garden too. They want to know whether you ever see deer, squirrels, badgers, hedgehogs, frogs and toads in your gardens, to help build an overall picture of how important our gardens are for giving all types of wildlife a home.

Doing the Big Garden Birdwatch is fun and easy, and you don’t even need to leave the comfort of your own home. To take part, spend just one hour at any time over the Big Garden Birdwatch weekend noting the highest number of each species seen in your garden or local outside space at any one time. You then simply submit your results to the RSPB website.
Lobley Hill Road lane closures
Temporary closure of lanes on Lobley Hill Road at the roundabout leading to Kingsway on the Team Valley and Festival Park will begin on 20th January and are scheduled to remain in place until the end of July. This is to allow improved access to be created to the Team Valley and to cut down on congestion.
The work, costing £3 million, is being funded mainly by the Coalition Government’s Pinchpoint Fund, set up to address local congestion problems.
News snippets

Planning permission is being sought to build 12 apartments on the car park opposite Swalwell Club on Brewery Bank, Swalwell.
Watergate Forest Park

Planning permission is being sought to extend the sports pavilion.

Sunniside bungalows plan

Planning permission is being sought to demolish the old bungalow at 54 Hole Lane, Sunniside, and build 2 houses on the site.
Wetherspoon’s application
JD Wetherspoon are applying for planning permission to install two externally illuminated signs reading 'THE JACK ROLL' and 'WETHERSPOONS', a further non-illuminated sign reading 'FREEHOUSE' and one hanging sign at the site entrance at the former Council Offices in Whickham.
Grange Lane
Roadworks and temporary traffic lights on Grange Lane, Whickham should be removed by 22nd January.
Broom Lane
There will be temporary traffic lights on Broom Lane on 7th February  whilst work to install a new power supply is carried out.
Redheugh Bridge Closure
The Redheugh Bridge will be closed on 16th March (for the day only) to allow for maintenance work to be carried out.
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